The Downtown Anchor Project, which will include the new Aransas County courthouse and Rockport city hall, hit a speed bump earlier this year due to a technicality, but the process of making that structure a reality was restarted by Aransas County commissioners at their regular meeting Monday, May 13, and by the Rockport city council the next day.

Aransas County commissioners met in a joint meeting Monday, July 8 with the Rockport City Council to approve several items, which are expected to clear the technicalities, which stalled the process in the past.

Aransas County Long Term Recovery Team member William Whitson told county and city officials in mid-May the role of the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) was not clearly defined, and the new process (approved at the July 8 joint meeting) will use a Construction Manager Agent (CMA).

In mid-May Whitson said, “It’s a reorganization of the process. The CMA will be part of the team to make sure bids are done properly.”

He explained the CMAR is the builder, and the way the process was first set up was like “having the fox in the henhouse.

“This (new process) creates separations and (eliminates any appearance) of conflicts of interest.”

Action taken at Monday’s joint meeting included:

• Approved the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process.

• Discussed the ranking of the architect proposals.

• Approved the collective architect ranking.

• Approved the RFQ delegation process for Construction Manager Agent.

Prior to the unanimous vote by both entities regarding each agenda item, Whitson said eight architect firms turned in RFQ’s the first time, and only three did so this time.

“That still meets the competitive requirements,” he said.

The firms turning in RFQs this time, and their ranking from one to three, are PGAL Architects, Randall Scott Architects, and Kissling Architects, Inc.

PGAL and Randall Scott, along with WKMC, were the top three firms selected (out of the original eight that turned in RFQs) for interviews during the first attempt.

County and city officials ranked PGAL (944 cumulative score), Randall Scott (822), and Kissling (561) prior to Monday’s meeting. The results were unveiled at that meeting, and PGAL, the same firm originally selected, was chosen again.

Whitson said the draft RFQ for a Construction Manager Agent is ready, and under review.

The estimated cost of the Downtown Anchor Project is $16.4 million for the county and $8.4 million for the city.

The courthouse portion will be approximately 55,000 square feet. The old courthouse (built in the 1950s) was 27,085 square feet.

The city hall portion will be approximately 28,000 square feet. The former city hall (built in the 1980s) was 13,172 square feet.

The final item on the agenda was approving the county and city’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) project allocations.

GrantWorks’ Robin Alexander said her firm, which was hired to prioritize the projects for funding, will be submitting grants for both entities.

“This process has taken a long time (due to all the details required when it comes to federal grants), but we’ll have them ready for public input (in the near future),” she said.

Alexander noted the county, city, and Town of Fulton will have to approve resolutions prior to the grants being submitted.

(Note: Whitson outlined all the funding opportunities, and what that search required, leading up to the two entities’ decisions regarding the Downtown Anchor Project. A story about that discussion will be published in the weekend edition.)

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